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Freeview reception - all about aerials

Your ability to receive all the Freeview transmissions depends on the suitability of aerial: the design style, "group" and its physical location.

Your ability to receive all the Freeview transmissions depends
published on UK Free TV

Updated 8th January 2014.

Your ability of receive all the Freeview transmissions depends on the suitability of aerial

  • the design style,
  • the "group", and
  • its physical location.

Standard type - Yagi aerial



The standard type of TV aerial is known as the Yagi aerial. It is mounted on a pole, and consists of a rod with a reflector (shown green) at the back and many spiky elements (in grey) at the front. The connecting cable connects to the element nearest the reflector, known as the driver (shown in blue).

These Yagi aerials are directional and so pick up signals best from a transmitter that the rod points towards. The more elements the aerial has, the better it picks up a signal and becomes more directional.

A standard-type aerial is all that is required for digital TV reception in most places. These antennae have between 10 and 18 elements and a single reflector. These are recommended for new installations for good digital television reception, but will more often than not function perfectly in good reception areas.

Typically these aerials are designed to receive only some transmission frequencies - see "groups" below.

High Gain aerials



These aerials are designed for poor digital reception areas, and have two reflectors. For maximum signal strength, some digital high gain aerials have up to 100 elements. Since the switchover to digital-only transmissions back in October 2012, most UK households now have good quality digital TV signals.

A more expensive aerial is only required where the signal strength is low, but can often provide the whole Freeview reception where it might otherwise be impossible.

The CAI (that represents aerial installers) has four standards for digital TV aerials. The highest standard "1" is for homes on the fringes of coverage areas, intermediate standard "2" is suitable for use within the coverage area; minimum standard "3" is for good coverage conditions.

These aerials can be either wideband, or receive only selected frequencies - see "groups" below.

Grid



You may haved used a 'Grid aerial' for analogue reception, but as they are generally unsuitable for Freeview reception, they have now generally been replaced by the Yagi type. However in some places a Grid aerial installation may work for Freeview: otherwise replace with a standard Yagi aerial.

Indoor

Indoor aerials are generally not suitable for Freeview reception. In areas of good signal strength it is often possible to receive some transmissions. Even where an aerial works, people often find that may get interruptions to their viewing (or recording).

Loft mounted

Loft mounted arrivals are not generally recommended for Freeview reception, as the roof tiles and plumbing will degrade the signal. Some compensation for this loss of signal can be made by using satellite-grade cable to connect the set top box to the aerial.

Positioning

The best position for a TV aerial is mounted outdoors, as high from the ground as possible, pointing directly at the transmitter. The signal can be blocked by hills and tall buildings. It should be positioned away from any other aerials.

Horizontal or vertical?

The transmitter will either use vertical mode which requires the elements of your aerial to be up-down, or horizontal mode which requires them to be level with the ground.

Groups

Both analogue and digital television is transmitted the same group of transmission frequencies (known as channel 21 through to 60). A coloured marking on the aerial shows the group.



To create the best possible analogue picture, TV transmissions from adjacent transmitters have been designated to several different groups of frequencies. By using an aerial that receives only the channels in the correct group, the analogue picture can be kept free from interference.

To receive Freeview transmissions from the same transmitter it has been sometimes necessary to use frequencies that are not part of the transmitter's normal group. When this has occurred, the aerial will need to be replaced with a "wideband" aerial (also known as group W) - one that covers every group.

As Ofcom is planning to move the TV frequencies again - perhaps as soon as 2018 - it may be wise to use a wideband aerial if you can to ensure you can keep viewing Freeview for many years to come.

Help with Television sets?
Why are all TVs on sale not digital?1
Do I still have to pay for a TV licence?2
I had perfect channel 5 reception - until I got a digital TV box!3
I Have a Pocket Tv For taking out so I can keep up with news and sport. Will thi4
The pictures from my digital box are all green!5
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In this section
Loft aerials1
Do I need to buy a booster?2
How to receive Freeview on your PC3
Indoor aerials4
Whole house digital TV5
Connecting it all up6

Comments
Monday, 16 May 2011
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

11:27 AM

kevin jones: You don't need an output from the TV, you split the signal from the aerial.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
S
Steve
sentiment_satisfiedGold

3:43 PM
Wrexham

he probably already gets that from his skybox also distirbuting an aerial feed?

Think he wants to distribute the HD signal he's watching to other tellies.

Think SCART lead or TV rebroadcaster!

Do you have freeview boxes for other TVs? Very cheap these days for non-HD

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Steve's 1,172 posts GB
Friday, 20 May 2011
R
Rob Fisher
9:29 PM

Rob F
I have a digital arial with 16 elements (8 sets of 2). I run a arial lead from the main tv to a four way signal enhancer. 1 of the out leads goes to the DVD/VHS recoder and 2 others to 2 other tv's. I get tempory sound loss on the newest tv (last about a second). Does anyone know if I would get a better picture with no sound loss if I got an arial with more elements and replaced the brown arial cable outside for black ?

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Rob Fisher's 1 post GB
S
Steve
sentiment_satisfiedGold

11:14 PM
Wrexham

RobF - No; NOBODY knows if that would help.

But IIUC your aerial lead goes fron outside to main TV then ON from main TV to the rest?

Or do you mean the incoming aerial goes from the main feed to the splitter on to 3TVs and a DVD/VHS? That would be better. Better still to split near the aerial, but can be hard.

Is the splitter powered?

Have you tried switching round the TVs and the connections?Is it a TV that gives problems, or one of the places wired to?

Do you have plug/socket connections? You need as few as possible. Better a wire through the wall into a TV than a wall mounted socket.

Is your external cable new or old? Old may be fine, or may be damp.

Colour of plastic coating means nothing unless it indicates what is within.

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Steve's 1,172 posts GB
Monday, 23 May 2011
R
robin armstrong
1:54 PM
Great Yarmouth

Have holiday home on Norfolk Coast with roof aerial that leads to new flat screen television with built in Freeview tuner.Post code NR29 3QL. Able to get BBC 1 and 2,ITV,and Ch 4 just about,but poor quality,and no Ch 5 at all.Other chamnnels can be found when tuning the television but always with "zero signal strength" or minimal strength so no picture can be seen.Tried plug in aerial signal booster but little difference. Given analogue signals are being phased out a) will I eventually need to fit a dish,and/or b) do I need to fit a different type of aerial to obtain all the channels to a clear and watchable standard.

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robin armstrong's 1 post GB
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

3:06 PM

robin armstrong: That's correct, you cannot yet receive Freeview from the Tacolneston transmitter, with the possible exception of Multiplex 1.

From 23 Nov 11 you will get a "marginal" digital service from that transmitter, and this will deteriorate slightly in 2012.

However, you might want to go for Freesat today as this will provide you with more or less the same channels as you will get at switchover from Tacolneston and will remain stable in 2012.

Freesat would probably be a wiser investment than a new aerial.

link to this comment
Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
Friday, 3 June 2011
R
Russelll Wolak
5:31 PM
Farnham

Hi - If an live in the Bourne in Farnham, which is in a dip, and I have a high gain aerial at present (using Crystal Palace) and experience a very good Freeview picture quality, but also get intermittent picture breakup, will I experience similar problems if I upgrade my set top boxes to Freeview HD?

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Russelll Wolak's 1 post GB
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

6:14 PM

Russelll Wolak: You won't get a more stable service until switchover (18th April 2012) with Freeview HD, but you will have four HD channels to watch.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
Saturday, 4 June 2011
J
Jonny
8:26 AM

A few years ago we had an arial company come round so we could watch tv in our bedroom.The tv has built in freeview.
While downstairs we had a tv with a freeview box until yesterday when we bought a new tv with built in freeview.Downstairs we have two antenna cables coming in through the wall.
So I set it all up and it works perfect,unfortunately the upstairs Tv shows no signal now!!
When disconnecting the downstairs box I noticed that the two antenna cables were connected to the box,one in 'Aerial in' and one in 'RF Out'.Now not having a clue about anything like this does anyone know how I can get my upstairs tv working?

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Jonny's 4 posts GB
J
jb38
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

9:33 AM

Jonny: What you mention would suggest that the RF output on the downstairs freeview box was the aerial link to the upstairs TV, the way to verify being to temporarily couple the two leads together and checking upstairs after doing so.

If this is the case then the only way to get around the problem is to use a two way splitter on the lead that feeds the new TV, the splitter being powered unless in a high signal strength area.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB
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